I have always been wary of insurance companies. I have almost zero trust in them, so when I stumbled across members of our South East Asia Backpacker Community singing the praises of travel insurance company, SafetyWing, I was keen to find out why they are so popular.
It all came down to one thing, flexibility. Even if you have no idea when your travels will end or where they’ll take you, SafetyWing can cover you from the start of your trip to the moment you arrive back home (if you arrive back home!). Their Nomad Insurance works just like a subscription service (think Netflix), which you can simply pause whenever you stop travelling!
This type of adaptable insurance proves very attractive for free-spirited backpackers, long-term travellers and digital nomads like us!
But is the coverage that SafetyWing offer still as good as the more well known backpacker travel insurers? Join me as we get into the nitty-gritty details of the SafetyWing Nomad Insurance policy…
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- Cheap & flexible
- Offer pandemic cover for COVID-19
- Covers almost the entire world
- Basic coverage
- Electronics not covered
- Doesn’t cover mental illness, pre-existing medical conditions or STDs
Let’s face it, trying to find the best travel insurance sucks. Not only do most insurers look at us as numbers on a balance sheet but they also make it so damn complicated to take out a policy.
The majority of companies will ask where you’re going, when you’re going, how long you’ll be gone for and what you’ll be doing on your trip. Then they’ll look over their proverbial glasses, stare straight into your soul and tell you all the fun things you have planned will invalidate your insurance.
How many travellers actually know where they’re going, how long they’re going for and what they’ll be doing at every given moment of their trip? The point of backpacking is to be spontaneous, make friends, change your plans and drag the trip out for as long as you can. Travel insurers are simply another thing getting in the way of our freedom!
But they are important. Really important. If you’re travelling without insurance, you’re either a fool or have more money than you know what to do with (if that’s the case, I know a guy that could help you spend it).
Consider the cost of repatriation from Laos or the price of an air ambulance in Thailand (hint: it’s upwards of $100,000 USD). Even something as simple as breaking a tooth could cost you a fortune while travelling!
SafetyWing At A Glance
Some of you are pressed for time, I get that, so here are the most important things you need to know about SafetyWing.
Cost Of SafetyWing Travel Insurance
SafetyWing is one of the most affordable travel insurers for backpackers and digital nomads, coming in at $42USD for 28 days cover (for 18-39-year-olds). The costs do rise for older age groups.
This is a rolling plan so every 4 weeks your cover will auto-renew, meaning you don’t have to mess around with start and end dates as with most insurance companies. When your trip is over, simply log into your SafetyWing account and click the “Stop Insurance” button.
What’s Covered By SafetyWing and What’s Not
This is a very quick overview of the cover offered by SafetyWing. For more information keep reading!
|Covered by SafetyWing||Not covered by SafetyWing|
|Basic Medical Cover – Emergency treatments etc||Electronics|
|Basic Travel Cover – Delays, lost luggage etc||Pre-Existing Medical Conditions|
|Visits Home||Cancer Treatment|
|Children||High Risk Activities|
|Use of Mopeds and Scooters||Mental Illness|
|Pandemics (Inc. COVID-19)||Sexually Transmitted Diseases|
Getting yourself a SafetyWing Nomad Insurance policy is really quick and easy. You can be set up and ready to go within just 15 minutes, leaving you more time to plan your trip!
SafetyWing – A Deep Dive
SafetyWing was founded by three digital nomads who were fed up with constantly fighting to get insurance without a fixed abode. They soon realised there must be a better way.
Up until they created SafetyWing, to get insured you would need a permanent address in your home country AND you’d need to take out the policy before you left on your travels. If your insurance ran out or you needed to change policy while abroad, you’d have to pay through the nose for the privilege, that’s if you could find anyone who would take you on! If you didn’t have a fixed address, good luck with getting anyone to insure you at all!
SafetyWing introduced a new way of doing travel insurance and although it was initially aimed at digital nomads; backpackers and long term travellers have flocked to them.
But do they live up to the hype?
SafetyWing changed the game. With a rolling monthly policy, insurance that covers almost every country in the world and a willingness to insure travellers who are already travelling and those with no fixed residence, SafetyWing is a breath of fresh air in an industry that has stayed stubbornly stagnant while the world changes around it.
Not only did SafetyWing bring new life to travel insurance, they also managed to do so at a price that attracted all but the stingiest backpackers!
7 Reasons Why are people choosing SafetyWing?
1. They offer pandemic cover
Until 2020, most of us hadn’t even considered that we might need pandemic cover and unless you’d read your policy wording carefully, you probably didn’t know that your insurer didn’t offer it anyway.
In fact, SafetyWing used to be one of these companies. However, since COVID-19 hit the news and changed the face of travel for the foreseeable future, SafetyWing stepped up and now offer COVID-19 cover as a part of their Nomad policy. So, if you need medical assistance due to contracting coronavirus, they’ve got your back.
2. No end date required
As previously mentioned, SafetyWing don’t require you to know exact dates you’ll be travelling. Their insurance works more like a subscription service. Every 28 days you’ll be billed for the month and your cover is ongoing until you cancel it. When your trip is over, simply log into your account and stop the payments.
3. You don’t need to tell them exactly where you are going
Unlike most insurance companies, SafetyWing only need to know the first country you plan on visiting during your trip. As backpackers ourselves, we at South East Asia Backpacker, understand that plans change and evolve constantly, so having an insurer that also understands this is super important!
SafetyWing recommend letting them know exactly where you are going in case you need proof of insurance to get a visa but it’s not mandatory.
4. You can buy insurance after your trip has started
As a general rule, travel insurance companies will not insure you if you are already on the road. Even if you find one that will, they will make sure they are making their money out of you! I was once quoted $600USD for a two-week insurance policy to get me through to the end of a trip. The eight-month trip up until that point had cost $500USD…
SafetyWing make it easy to get insured on the road and the costs are exactly the same!
5. They cover you for visits home
Most insurers will have stipulations written into their policy that cancels the cover as soon as you set foot back in your home country. SafetyWing not only allow you to visit home without invalidating the insurance, they will also cover you while you are at home.
There are conditions that apply to the home cover, keep reading to find out more!
6. Simple, good value pricing
No matter where, when or how you’re travelling, SafetyWing make their pricing structure really easy to understand. The only factor they take into account for the different price brackets is your age and whether or not you plan on visiting the USA.
|Cost for 28 days travelling excluding the USA|
|10-39 years old – $42USD|
|40-49 years old – $68.04USD|
|50-59 years old – $106.68USD|
|60-64 years old – $144.76USD|
|65-69 years old – $144.76USD|
|Above 69 years old – No cover offered|
|Cost for 28 days travelling including the USA|
|10-39 years old – $76.72USD|
|40-49 years old – $126.56USD|
|50-59 years old – $208.04USD|
|60-64 years old – $284.20USD|
|65-69 years old – $284.20USD|
|Above 69 years old – No cover offered|
7. They are good for families
SafetyWing aren’t only for backpackers and digital nomads. They’re also great for travelling families. One child under 10 can be included with each adult policy free of charge (up to two children per family). Any other children under 10 will need to be added to the policy in the same way as a 10-39 year old.
If you plan on visiting the USA as part of a longer trip, it may be more financially viable to take out a separate policy for just the US leg of your trip rather than pay the inflated USA rates for the duration of your travels.
While these are the primary reasons travellers cite when asked why they chose SafetyWing, a lot of you reading this will have many more questions!
SafetyWing Frequently Asked Questions
Why Is SafetyWing So Cheap?
SafetyWing have managed to keep their costs low in a number of different ways.
Firstly, their Nomad Insurance policy is a standalone policy with no confusing add ons or extras. By keeping everything the same, they have standardised and streamlined the process of getting insurance, saving both them and yourself plenty of man-hours!
Secondly, SafetyWing’s single policy is pretty basic in terms of what you are covered for. Although they offer more than the bare minimum, the amount of cover they offer is significantly lower than some of the competition. For example, they offer a $100,000USD limit on emergency medical evacuation, which is probably fine in most circumstances but some rescues will cost way more than this!
In the past, I’ve taken out insurance policies that covered emergency medical evacuation up to $5,000,000USD, especially if I have been somewhere particularly remote or hard to access!
Finally, rather than working with multiple insurance partners to make sure you are covered across the globe, SafetyWing work with just one, the Japanese company, Tokio Marine. This is one of the world’s leading insurance giants and they offer cover almost everywhere. By working with just one partner, rather than juggling 10-20 different firms like some companies do, SafetyWing can spare precious man-hours focussing on other tasks.
What Do SafetyWing Cover And What’s Not Covered?
I know it’s boring but you really should read your policy wording and description of coverage before buying travel insurance. You’ll be amazed at how many ways your insurer will worm their way out of parting with cash. For example, SafetyWing will not cover you for kidnapping unless; you have, to the best of your ability, kept the existence of your insurance policy a secret.
Not gonna lie, if I get kidnapped and am asked if I have insurance, I’ll be singing like a canary. And in the process, I’ll be invalidating my insurance and therefore any ransom they would’ve paid for my freedom.
This isn’t specifically SafetyWing mugging you off though, it’s very normal for travel insurers to have exclusions like this, which is why it’s so important to understand what you are paying for before buying your insurance!
Editor’s Update: Safety Wing responded to the statement above with the following…
The breach would likely only come into play if there is an explicit connection between the incident and the insured ignoring the confidentiality requirement, like posting on Twitter “I just bought a kidnap and ransom insurance.”
In general, SafetyWing cover you for:
Basic Medical Cover
SafetyWing’s Nomad Insurance will cover you if you fall ill or have an accident while travelling. Assuming it wasn’t sustained during a high risk activity, isn’t due to a pre-existing medical condition* and isn’t a cancer treatment.
*If you suffer from an acute onset of a pre-existing medical condition while travelling then you WILL be covered for treatment but only under certain circumstances.
Your emergency transportation to a hospital, nursing, treatment and room costs are all included in your cover. You’ll also be covered for emergency dental treatment up to $1000USD in value.
As well as medical cover, SafetyWing also cover you for travel-related issues such as delays exceeding 12 hours and unplanned overnight stays, emergency evacuation due to natural disasters or political situations and lost luggage, with a few notable exceptions.
Providing you didn’t contract COVID19 before you took out your insurance policy, SafetyWing cover all necessary treatments that result from catching coronavirus. Tests for COVID19 will only be covered if deemed necessary by a medical professional.
SafetyWing will also cover you when visiting home. This cover is only valid for 30 days every three months. Essentially, you can visit home for a one month period once every three months and not have to worry about getting extra cover. If you are from the USA, this cover is only valid for 15 days every three months.
One child under 10 can be included on your policy for no extra charge. It is worth noting that only two children under 10 can be included in this way per family. Any more will have to be included and paid for in the same way as adults.
Mopeds and Scooters
Good news for backpackers is that moped use* is covered by SafetyWing, providing you are not racing or intoxicated and that you are properly licensed to ride in the country you are in.
*SafetyWing will only cover your medical expenses should you be hurt in an accident. There is no liability insurance offered!
SafetyWing do not cover:
Phones, tablets, cameras or laptops are not covered. If you lose your luggage, SafetyWing will not pay out for these items. Not great for technology obsessed millennials or digital nomads who require such items to power their everyday lives!
Pre existing medical conditions
SafetyWing does not cover pre existing medical conditions. If you suffer with a pre-existing medical condition, then SafetyWing will still offer you cover but they will not pay out for any complications with your ongoing condition.
If you have “acute onset” of your condition and seek treatment within 24 hours, you can claim for that treatment but make sure you understand the policy wording on this front!
SafetyWing will not cover cancer treatments either at home or abroad.
High risk activities
There are A LOT of activities not covered by SafetyWing, for a full list check the description of coverage (activities are on page 25) but some of the more notable ones for backpackers are:
Boxing and martial arts
Mountaineering/hiking/camping/cycling at elevations of 4,500 meters or higher
They also don’t cover jousting but unless you are time travelling to the 1300s to hang out with Heath Ledger, you probably don’t need to worry about that one!
SafetyWing will not cover you for mental health conditions.
Sexually transmitted diseases
SafetyWing do not cover any form of sexually transmitted diseases or infection.
Countries not covered
SafetyWing covers almost every country in the world with just a few exceptions. There is absolutely no cover in Iran or North Korea and for most people, no cover for Cuba. If you are a US citizen and have express permission from your government, you can travel to Cuba.
You will also not be covered for kidnapping or express kidnapping in Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia or Venezuela, as well as any country facing severe sanctions from the United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
You’ll find many more exclusions in your description of coverage so make sure you read it – properly!
SafetyWing Remote Health
As well as their Nomad Policy, SafetyWing offer their Remote Health Policy. This comes with a much higher cost, starting at $206USD per month for 18-39 year olds but is much more comprehensive. It is designed for expats or those who have no medical insurance in their home country and covers cancer treatments and more routine medical appointments.
You can also add a few premium extras such as dental cover and outpatient treatments to your SafetyWing Remote Health plan which you are unable to do with the Nomad Insurance.
How To Make A Claim With SafetyWing
Making a claim with SafetyWing is a very similar process to making any insurance claim. Follow these simple steps and you’ll be well away!
- Make sure you have kept all receipts that you are claiming for!
- Fill out the claim form that can be found on SafetyWing’s website.
- Once the form is ready to go, upload it with copies of your receipts.
- Wait for confirmation, SafetyWing say this should take no more than three working days.
- You can follow the progress of your claim on Tokio Marine’s Client Zone. Make an account for this using your SafetyWing Policy ID.
- If your claim is approved, this should take less than 45 days, you’ll be reimbursed.
If you are about to cancel your insurance, make sure you file the claim within 60 days of the policy ending!
Final Thoughts On SafetyWing
The main thing to remember is that SafetyWing are still an insurance company. Their primary goal is to make money. Sure, they need to keep their customers happy to make money but they are not your friend. However, if you have properly read the policy wording and understand what you are getting, you could do much worse than getting your insurance through them.
SafetyWing are rated as a 3.9 on TrustPilot which is high for an insurance company but by no means the highest you can find. True Traveller are rated much better but come at a higher cost and World Nomads, who are also more expensive are actually rated the lowest of the three at just 3.1!
Most poor reviews from customers of SafetyWing are from people who didn’t read their description of coverage properly and didn’t understand what they were getting. There are a few reports of SafetyWing being very slow to reply to people’s claims, queries or concerns and some reports of customers being completely unable to get in touch with the company at all.
Despite one-third of customers reporting a less than excellent experience with SafetyWing, their Nomad Insurance policy is still a solid choice for backpackers and digital nomads. Coverage is pretty basic, so if you need specialised insurance for extreme sports, a pre-existing medical condition or because you are an older traveller, you probably want to consider your other options. You can find loads of information about choosing travel insurance here.
On the whole, with their great rates, decent cover and unrivalled flexibility, it’s easy to see how SafetyWing are quickly becoming a backpacker favourite when it comes to travel insurance.
If you like what you’ve read about SafetyWing, you can get yourself set up with a policy in minutes.
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